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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about The Dark Flower.

Dromore was seated in his long arm-chair, a cigar between his lips, a pencil in his hand, a Ruff’s Guide on his knee; beside him was a large green book.  There was a festive air about him, very different from his spasmodic gloom of the other day; and he murmured without rising: 

“Halo, old man!—­glad to see you.  Take a pew.  Look here!  Agapemone—­which d’you think I ought to put her to—­San Diavolo or Ponte Canet?—­not more than four crosses of St. Paul.  Goin’ to get a real good one from her this time!”

He, who had never heard these sainted names, answered: 

“Oh!  Ponte Canet, without doubt.  But if you’re working I’ll come in another time.”

“Lord! no!  Have a smoke.  I’ll just finish lookin’ out their blood—­and take a pull.”

And so Lennan sat down to watch those researches, wreathed in cigar smoke and punctuated by muttered expletives.  They were as sacred and absorbing, no doubt, as his own efforts to create in clay; for before Dromore’s inner vision was the perfect racehorse—­he, too, was creating.  Here was no mere dodge for making money, but a process hallowed by the peculiar sensation felt when one rubbed the palms of the hands together, the sensation that accompanied all creative achievement.  Once only Dromore paused to turn his head and say: 

“Bally hard, gettin’ a taproot right!”

Real Art!  How well an artist knew that desperate search after the point of balance, the central rivet that must be found before a form would come to life. . . .  And he noted that to-day there was no kitten, no flowers, no sense at all of an extraneous presence—­ even the picture was curtained.  Had the girl been just a dream—­a fancy conjured up by his craving after youth?

Then he saw that Dromore had dropped the large green book, and was standing before the fire.

“Nell took to you the other day.  But you always were a lady’s man.  Remember the girl at Coaster’s?”

Coaster’s tea-shop, where he would go every afternoon that he had money, just for the pleasure of looking shyly at a face.  Something beautiful to look at—­nothing more!  Johnny Dromore would no better understand that now than when they were at ‘Bambury’s.’  Not the smallest good even trying to explain!  He looked up at the goggling eyes; he heard the bantering voice: 

“I say—­you are goin’ grey.  We’re bally old, Lenny!  A fellow gets old when he marries.”

And he answered: 

“By the way, I never knew that you had been.”

From Dromore’s face the chaffing look went, like a candle-flame blown out; and a coppery flush spread over it.  For some seconds he did not speak, then, jerking his head towards the picture, he muttered gruffly: 

“Never had the chance of marrying, there; Nell’s ‘outside.’”

A sort of anger leaped in Lennan; why should Dromore speak that word as if he were ashamed of his own daughter?  Just like his sort—­none so hidebound as men-about-town!  Flotsam on the tide of other men’s opinions; poor devils adrift, without the one true anchorage of their own real feelings!  And doubtful whether Dromore would be pleased, or think him gushing, or even distrustful of his morality, he said: 

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